By Bob Katzen
The Senate approved a measure, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Ciccolo (D-Lexington), designating July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day also to be known as Quock Walker Day, in recognition of the court ruling that rendered slavery unconstitutional in the commonwealth. Walker, born to enslaved Black parents in Massachusetts, was the driving force behind this ruling.
Supporters explained that Walker, who was born to enslaved Black parents in the Bay State, self-emancipated at 28 years old. When his former enslaver found him, Walker sued for his freedom, and on July 8th, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that Walker was a free man. This critical decision served as the precedent that ended slavery in the state on constitutional grounds and led to Massachusetts becoming the first state in the nation to abolish slavery.
“The inspiration for this bill comes from Sean Osborn, a Lexington resident and historian who founded the Association of Black Citizens of Lexington,” said Rep. Ciccolo. “I am looking forward to annually commemorating Quock Walker’s significant place in our state’s history.”
The House has already approved the bill. Only final House and Senate action are required prior to the proposal going the Gov. Baker.